My mother, a strong and independent woman from Tondo, Manila, Philippines, moved to The Bronx in the late '80s in search of new opportunities that the states provided. Her journey to establish herself in the states was a tumultuous and arduous one.
My father, a resilient and tenacious Puerto Rican born to a single mother, was raised in Brooklyn and Puerto Rico and lived off of SSDI and odd-jobs after he dropped out of high school and sustained injuries that legally disabled him.
Intergenerational trauma is real. My story starts before I was born on a below-freezing Tuesday in February in New York City. I would realize this as I got older. We lived in Long Island City, Queens, New York - blocks away from Queensbridge Houses.
To know where you came from will
make it easier to get where you're going...
With a relatively small medical presence in South Texas, my mother found a great opportunity in a small and quiet Bordertown along the US-Mexico border.
My family moved to Edinburg, Texas (aka The Valley) to take a step further into living the American Dream of cultivating land that you can pass down to future generations.
The summer going into third grade, my parents separated.
My mother, sister, and I moved to Mujeres Unidas, a homeless shelter for victims of domestic violence and abuse.
At the time, there were ~1.6 million children in the United States that were experiencing homelessness.
Out of those 1.6 million, ~1.14 million were projected to not complete high school.
That's 3 out of 4 children.
I attended 4 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 2 high schools.
Through perseverance, faith, luck, and support, I graduated with distinction from high school in 2015. I was the 1 out of 4.
I started college in June instead of August as part of a Summer Bridge program - a college program intended to support and give a headstart to students who are most likely to drop out of college based on their socioeconomic status and adverse background.
I finally had a bed after 9 years.
I wasn't fully prepared for college despite Summer Bridge.
The academic rigor, outcomes of imposter syndrome, and issues at home and in life were overwhelming.
On my 19th birthday, my father, whom I had not seen in 10 years, was diagnosed with brain cancer, later spreading to his lymph nodes after late (un)successful surgeries.
I fell into academic probation and took fewer classes to sustain several part-time jobs while studying.
Desperate for a summer job/internship but unable to afford summer housing, I packed up all my belongings into my 8-year old Honda Civic and moved to Dallas, TX in search of an opportunity. My car became my storage.
I accepted a job at Ed Gurukul Enrichment Academy as an instructor teaching Python, web development, and chess to K-12 students from 9 AM to 4 PM.
To financially support myself and my family, I took up a second job as a server at TGI Fridays working for tips - getting paid $2 an hour - from 4:30 PM to 1 AM.
I did this every day until I quit to visit my father after I received news of his admission to hospice due to complications with the now Stage IV lung cancer.
He transitioned on August 8th, 2017.
I struggled a lot, but I was tenacious.
I received my first internship offer one month before I'd begin. I served as a Quality Assurance Engineer II intern working on PowerEdge Servers and DevOps software.
Dell would grant me my first foray into big tech. Better late than never!
After a successful internship, I'd go on to be 1 of the 25 selected out of 400 interns nationwide to represent Dell in on-campus recruitment - forging a recruitment pipeline with diverse students on campus through SHPE and NSBE. This was my initial foray into D&I efforts.
I later netted an opportunity to work with Google as a Project Manager and create social impact through a nonprofit, Latinitas, devoted to empowering Latina high schoolers through technology.
I later accepted a Customer Engineer role with IBM in New York City to client-face and work on Blockchain networks in the Distribution market.
A fervor for technology for social good was instilled in me through Google and being at the forefront of technology through IBM.
I attended HBCU@SXSW and NSBE45 and made many lifelong friends and connections. I got accepted into the Impact Labs Summit NY cohort and engaged in workshops, conversations, and events related to technology for social good. I became active in environmental and climate justice and received a Climate Justice and Political Action award from UPROSE in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, NY. I engaged with IBM P-TECH Brooklyn to giveback and mentor the communities my father was raised in.
My works would later be acknowledged by Forbes, Harvard, Google, and more...
2019 was a big year for me, so I have it on the timeline twice.
I worked on a year-long machine learning Honors-capstone project with State Street as a Software Engineer.
I fell in love with marketing and design, so I worked as a Product Marketing Lead at a social media startup, Twenty.co, with Arianna Huffington and Rande Gerber on the board.
I attended the annual SHPE conference in Arizona.
Most importantly, I graduated in December 2019. I started college early and graduated late, but I did it.
More and more devoted to social good, I joined multiple organizations. Remember Impact Labs? I joined them as a content writer and program manager.
I started my full-time job at IBM in NYC this time supporting Cloud and AI solutions for the U.S. Federal Government. I got my first apartment and room to myself ever in the Upper East Side.
Then the pandemic hit...
I later joined The TechShift Alliance as a member of the Board of Directors. I became a Teaching Assistant through Microsoft Philanthropies to teach AP Computer Science where I was raised in Texas. I joined a research team from UCLA, USC, and PCORI as the Board of Advisors to learn and support those experiencing homelessness. As a person with lived experience of homelessness, I'd be making sure their work would be patient-centered, relevant, and useful.
I rescued a beautiful and loving companion in the form of a puppy. She goes by Neptune.
Within one year of working, I got my first promotion!
I then moved to Hell's Kitchen with a beautiful view that - for me - exemplifies that the tenacity, resiliency, and courage was all worth it.
Later, I signed an acting and modeling contract with BMG for LA and NYC. I then became a Technical Product Manager for IBM Cloud covering open source technologies like Kubernetes and Docker.
Let go of the past, bring all the good parts forward, forget the negatives, and go on...
... whenever you get hung up on the past, you're robbing yourself of the present and the potential future.
I was promoted to Senior Technical Product Manager within less than 1 year of joining my team and less than 2.5 years at IBM.
I joined another PCORI project to address mental health within Skidrow, and I joined a nonprofit, FilExcellence, dedicated to empowering the Filipino/a/x diaspora.